7 Health Benefits of Cherries & Best Ones to Eat

With their vibrant red hue and succulent taste, Cherries may seem like just another delicious summer fruit. However, beyond their appealing appearance and flavor, cherries pack a surprising array of health benefits that many are unaware of.

From combating inflammation to enhancing sleep quality, these small fruits hold secrets to health improvements that can touch every aspect of your life. Here’s some of the lesser-known wonders of cherries to help you discover how this delightful fruit can be more than just a seasonal treat.

1. Potent Anti-Inflammatory Effects

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Cherries are renowned for their powerful anti-inflammatory properties, primarily due to their high concentration of antioxidants such as anthocyanins and cyanidin. These compounds help reduce inflammation at a cellular level. Studies¹ have shown that consuming cherries can significantly reduce markers of inflammation in the body.

For instance, tart cherries, in particular, have been observed to help lessen inflammation related to muscle recovery and arthritis, making them an excellent choice for athletes and those suffering from joint pain.

2. Supports Heart Health

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Regular cherry consumption has been linked to improved heart health. The antioxidants in cherries help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, reduce blood pressure, and decrease oxidative stress ², all of which are risk factors for heart disease. Additionally, cherries contain potassium, which helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

By incorporating cherries into your diet, you can support the overall health of your cardiovascular system.

3. Enhances Sleep Quality

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Cherries are one of the few natural sources of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Consuming cherries, particularly tart cherries, either in whole fruit form or as juice, has been shown to improve the quality and duration of sleep. This makes cherries a beneficial dietary addition for those struggling with insomnia or irregular sleep patterns.

4. Aids in Weight Management

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Low in calories and high in fiber, cherries are an excellent addition to a weight management diet. The fiber content in cherries helps promote satiety, reducing overall calorie intake. Also, the bioactive compounds in cherries may also accelerate metabolism and increase fat burning, making them a useful snack for weight loss or maintenance.

5. Reduces Gout Attacks

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For those suffering from gout, cherries might be especially beneficial. Research indicates that cherries can reduce the frequency of gout attacks³. The anthocyanins found in cherries help lower uric acid levels and reduce inflammation, both critical factors in gout management.

Regular consumption of cherries, or even cherry extract, has been correlated with a lower risk of recurrent gout flare-ups.

6. Supports Brain Health

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Cherries are beneficial for brain health due to their antioxidant properties. These antioxidants help to combat oxidative stress, which is a factor in the development and progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Additionally, the anti-inflammatory effects of cherries can protect against brain inflammation, which has been linked to mental decline. Thus, eating cherries could contribute to maintaining healthy cognitive function as you age.

7. Fights Oxidative Stress & Reduces Cancer Risk

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The high levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants in cherries help protect cells from damage by free radicals, thereby reducing the risk of various types of cancer. These antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals and may prevent them from causing cellular damage that can lead to cancer.

Regular consumption of cherries can be a delicious way to boost your antioxidant intake and potentially lower your cancer risk .

The Best Type of Cherries for Health

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While both sweet and tart cherries offer impressive health benefits, the ideal approach is to incorporate a variety of cherry types into your diet to reap their unique advantages.

Sweet cherries like Bing and Rainier are packed with anthocyanins, potent antioxidants linked to reduced inflammation, improved heart health, and potential cancer-fighting properties. Their ability to lower harmful LDL cholesterol and regulate blood pressure may contribute to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease ⁶.

On the other hand, tart cherries such as Montmorency are renowned for their high melatonin content , which can improve sleep quality and duration. They are also rich in anthocyanins that may alleviate gout attacks by lowering uric acid levels and reducing inflammation, aiding exercise recovery and pain relief.

By enjoying a handful of sweet cherries as a snack for a burst of anthocyanins and vitamin C, while sipping on tart cherry juice before bedtime for its melatonin content, you can maximize the potential health benefits and add a delightful burst of flavor to your meals and snacks.

How to Incorporate Cherries into Your Diet

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Incorporating cherries into your diet can be delicious and beneficial for your health. Here are some creative and tasty ways to enjoy cherries:

  • Morning Boost: Add pitted cherries to your morning yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal. This will enhance the flavor and boost the nutrient content of your breakfast.
  • Smoothies: Blend frozen cherries with bananas, yogurt, and almond milk for a refreshing and antioxidant-rich smoothie. For an extra nutrient kick, add a handful of spinach or kale.
  • Salads: Toss fresh or dried cherries into green salads. They pair well with mixed greens, goat cheese, nuts, and a balsamic vinaigrette, offering a delightful mix of sweet and savory flavors.
  • Snacks: Keep dried cherries on hand for a quick and healthy snack, or mix them with nuts and seeds to make your own trail mix.
  • Desserts: Use cherries as a topping for ice cream or blend them into a sorbet. Make a cherry compote to serve over Greek yogurt or whole-grain pancakes for a healthier option.
  • Sauces and Chutneys: Cook cherries with sugar and spices to create a savory sauce or chutney that complements grilled meats, especially chicken and pork.
  • Baking: Cherries add moisture and flavor to baked goods. Incorporate them into muffins, pies, and tarts. Cherry clafoutis, a classic French dessert, is an elegant yet simple way to showcase cherries.
  • Drinks: Infuse water or iced tea with fresh cherries and mint for a refreshing summer drink, or stir cherry juice into cocktails for a splash of color and taste.
Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.